Shut out of Canadian Parliament… again

Community Opinion & Analysis Dec 21, 2018 at 5:20 pm

ParliamentThe Trudeau Liberals could have chosen to replace the late Filipino-Canadian Senator Enverga with another Filipino or Filipina Liberal Senator. But the Filipino-Canadian community gets shut out of another Parliament – again.

Our beloved Sen Enverga’s Senate seat will not be replaced with another Filipino-Canadian

By José Victor ‘Jayvee’ Salameña

The Federal Liberals enamored us Filipino-Canadians when they passed Motion 155, adopting nationwide that June would be Filipino Heritage Month throughout Canada. The Federal Liberals were riding high in the goodwill of the community. Likewise, their provincial counterparts, reeling and healing from the historic and devastating losses they suffered in the 2018 provincial elections, reached out to many prominent members of the Filipino-Canadian community, and helped to create FLAO, the Filipino Liberal Association of Ontario, partly in response to the AFCC, the Association of Filipino Conservatives of Canada, which was created earlier this year. The Liberals were making waves in the hearts and minds of the Filipino-Canadian community.

In light of the Trudeau Liberals in power, many Filipino Liberals were also hoping that the Liberals would replace the Senate seat vacated by the untimely death of our very own Senator Tobias Enverga to another Filipino or Filipina, thereby keeping at least one Senate seat with the Filipino-Canadian community, while at the same time having a Senate Seat that would lean Liberal. Sources within the community suggested that there was a push within the Liberals in the Filipino-Canadian community to have one of their own recommended as a Senator.

It would have been another brilliant political move by the Federal Liberals, had they added another Filipino or Filipina into the Senate. The community, now numbering around 900,000 around Canada, now holds some political clout. Filipino-Canadians also are mostly clustered around urban areas such as the Greater Vancouver Area and the Greater Toronto Area, ridings that the Liberals need to win in order to win elections or gain majorities.

Alas, on December 12, 2018, the Prime Minister’s Office announced in a statement that Trudeau would be filling all vacant Senate seats with Pat Duncan, Margaret Anderson, Stanley Kutcher, and Rosemary Moodie. No Filipino-Canadian will replace the late Senator Enverga’s place in the Senate.

It is understandable and truly admirable that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals want to put in more women and visible minorities into representation in Canada’s Parliament. He could still have done so with tapping one of our own Filipina-Canadians, many of whom are involved in the provincial and federal Liberal parties. Unfortunately, we Filipino-Canadians got shut out again.

If Trudeau and the Liberals really cared about Filipino-Canadians, he would at least give us representation in Parliament through the Senate, like what Stephen Harper and the Conservatives did.

But instead, all Trudeau had to do is dress up in a Barong, eat from a bucket of Jollibee fried chicken, and we’re all enamored by his spell. Yes, the community is grateful for the bill to pass Filipino Heritage Month.  But we have deeper concerns. Whether he and the Liberals are genuinely interested in our deeper concerns, such as affordable housing, the reinstatement of the caregiver program, the fair immigration processes that put legal immigration into priority, and the safety and security of our communities, and most importantly, our yearning for rightful representation in the halls of power, still remains to be seen.

Eventually, the antics of the barong-wearing, Jollibee-eating, Filipino-Heritage-Month passing Prime Minister will wear thin, and the token gestures will start to ring superficial and hollow.